Fresh from a personally successful tour of South Africa England batsman and adidas brand ambassador Ian Bell wants to keep improving his game and has told Cricket World that he maintains his desire to be England's Test-match number-three batsman.
He ended the 2009 Ashes series in that position but batting at number six in South Africa, he scored 313 runs, including a match-winning century in Durban and a match-saving 78 in Cape Town and he says that the tour has helped him come of age as a Test batsman.
Bell, seen here modelling the brand new adidas range of cricket equipment said: "I've learnt a lot about my game in the last 12 months. In a way, I had to repay a little of the faith Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower had shown in me. I was desperate to do what I did in South Africa and hopefully I can kick on now. Having now played 53 Test matches, hopefully I've given myself the platform to kick on for the rest of my career. I want to keep improving now."
Although England went into the Test series as clear second favourites, Bell revealed that drawing the series 1-1 was a disappointment, especially after his efforts in Durban and Cape Town helped set up a series lead.
"The goal when we got out there was to win, so it was disappointing having been 1-0 up not to walk away with the series win. We knew South Africa were one of the best teams in world cricket at the minute, and (the scoreline) was probably a fair reflection of the series - the games were pretty much always in the balance. Some days we were better than them, other days they were better than us."
Many of Bell's best performances for England have come batting lower down the order, including his career-best of 199 against South Africa in 2008 and three centuries against Pakistan in the summer of 2006, but that does not stop the Warwickshire man from believing he is the right man to take over the problematic number three position, which, in the last 12 months, has also been occupied by Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara and Jonathan Trott.
"The record proves that I've played better at five and six," Bell conceded. "Number three is where I've played my cricket for Warwickshire and I've always said that I really would love to nail the number three spot for England, and I want to do that. For the moment, I have to keep working at scoring the runs so that if I get another opportunity at number three, hopefully I can take that."
That means scoring runs against Bangladesh, England's next Test opponents and Bell is certainly not underestimating the challenge offered by the Tigers this month.
"It's going to be a different style of cricket (from the South Africa tour), but watching Bangladesh against India, they are improving all the time and we've got to play good cricket to beat them. I think it will, hopefully, be a good tour for us to develop as a side. We're going to have to play very well in their own conditions, and play a lot of spin bowling, to beat them."
After that, Bell will be hoping for more of the sort of form that saw him score 375 runs at an average of 93.75 in 2006 when Pakistan tour again this summer, which also sees England take on Bangladesh Australia and Bangladesh.
"I'm definitely hoping for more of the same," he said. "Pakistan are a good team, my record is pretty good against them but you can't take that for granted - this is a new series but I can take some confidence that I've played well against them in the past."
Ian Bell plays with the adidas Incurza bat, a bat designed for the more aggressive forceful player. For further information on the adidas cricket range contact customer care on 0870 240 4204
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